Recently I’ve discovered a new category of woman who I call “The Practice Wife.” These women are kind, articulate, smart, supportive and accomplished. Additionally, they are usually attractive and people consider them “catches” so nobody can figure out why they are single.
I was intrigued by these women because when you take a closer look they all share something noteworthy. After a breakup, the men they were involved with, quickly find another woman and get married. Usually there is no apparent upgrade from the practice wife to the actual wife so I really wanted to know what the heck was going on with these women? Why are they left outside of the church with their noses pressed against the stain glass window screaming “why her and not me?”
I talked to some of those men and discovered that they were groomed for marriage by the practice wife. They learned what mistakes to avoid in their relationships with her. Basically, they practiced on her. She took them to school and made them the ultimate catch for the next woman but why did he need another woman? Why not her?
When I was in business school I took a class in professional sales. One of the most valuable things I learned was a salesperson must first identify where a potential customer is in the sales cycle. The ability to identify this one step correctly saves time, energy and maximizes success. The Practice Wife lacks this ability. She does not know how to correctly identify where a man is in the relationship cycle. There are basically four levels of the relationship cycle: Discovery, Fun, Trial/Error and Commitment. The Practice Wife is already at the Commitment stage. She is ready for marriage. However, she picks a man who is not yet at that stage.
In turn the relationship becomes tumultuous at times. The man experiences pressures and expectations on him to make him ready as a man to be worthy to meet her at the commitment stage. Some of those pressures might be to get a better job, finish school, earn more money, etc. Understanding that the Practice Wife is good for him, the man listens, learns and improves his entire situation. He becomes a better man and eventually he becomes ready to join Practice Wife at the commitment stage.
So Why Doesn’t it Work?
Because the entire relationship dynamic would have to change. The relationship was student/teacher or parent/child with the man in the subordinate role. The Practice Wife has an issue allowing men to lead or to take control. It’s difficult for her to let the man she molded take the wheel. It becomes clear to the man that she will always see him as something she made, her creation so he concludes that it’s time to move on. He is looking for someone who will accept him for the finished product that he now is. Someone who will admire him for his accomplishments.
The hard part, for the Practice Wife to swallow, is the man finds a woman similar to her because she has taught him what kind of woman to look for. He falls in love quickly because they don’t have any of the issues that broke him and the Practice Wife up. Unfortunately, the Practice Wife, with her inability to identify where a man is in the relationship cycle, repeats her fate all over again.
How to identify if you are a Practice Wife?
- Do you look past the man to his potential?
- Do you enjoy reclamation projects?
- Do you take pride in dressing your man or suggesting grooming tips?
- Have you ever suggested a man seek higher education or a career change?
- Do you encourage him to pursue promotions or ask for raises?
- Have any of your former boyfriends married the next woman after you?
If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, you may be a Practice Wife and you may eventually find yourself pounding on that church window unless you make some changes. Potential is great but it means he hasn’t done anything yet. If you like reclamation projects buy a house. Want to teach someone to be a better person, mentor a young adult. Want to get married, stop going after the trainee and go after the trainer. Stop making yourself available to men who are trying to get themselves together and choose those who already are.
You may be required to go a little older and it may require you to give up some control but you’ll find it’s much nicer on the inside of the church where you may be asking yourself, who’s that crazy woman outside pounding on the window.
269,198 total views, 4 views today
May 19, 2014 at 11:22 am
Came across this on a friend’s FB post.
This article is WONDERFUL and delightfully, well written. Sharing with my entire online world!! It was so good, I thought it has to be written by a man. Kudos to you! Thanks for sharing…
My favorite line:
“There are basically four levels of the relationship cycle: Discovery, Fun, Trial/Error and Commitment.”
May 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Awesome insights, even a couple I hadn’t taken into consideration. Spot on in my view.
May 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm
Very well written article. Though I do not agree with the term “practice wife” I will agree with the discovery of growth. I think that in any relationship, both parties have to understand that if the relationship is going to blossom, then their will be change. I look at it as a garden. You plant a seed, you feed it, water it, and tend to it in hopes of watching it grow. You spend so much of your time in making it into a flower, that once it blossoms you only enjoy it for a limited time.
May 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm
Fantastic read Summer.
May 19, 2014 at 7:14 pm
#Confirmation of why I REFUSED to be any man’s Practice Wife … all this cooking for him, cleaning for him, giving him sex when he wants it, etc., and there’s no marital covenant to show for it is for the birds. Yes, my former boyfriends married the next woman after me because I would not let them “practice” anything martial on me. Are they happy with their wives? NOPE. I pray that Women who read this article would really take heed because there’s so much Wisdom in this. I also pray that all so-called self-proclaimed relationship experts would STOP advising women about affirming and building up a man … just STOP telling women what to do and what not do when it comes to our interactions with men.
May 21, 2014 at 10:46 am
I wonder If I was doing this to my boyfriend? I have to ask myself this. But where does being a practice wife differ from helping each other grow to be more complete? Does this happen when you’re both in a stage of needing to grow into complete people or…what?
May 24, 2014 at 10:05 am
basically the article is saying once youreach the trail and error stage of development and accomplishments, allow him to take controll as a man and for you to stop being his teacher/groomer.
May 24, 2014 at 10:06 am
sorry for typos…and mispellings
May 25, 2014 at 11:44 am
Meet people where they are instead of where yoy want them to be. Development of potential is never a guarantee.
May 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm
I WOULD LOVE TO SHARE YOUR BLOG AND IF POSSIBLE MAYBE WE COULD CONNECT AND I ADD YOUR BLOG TO MY BLOG….LOVE IT KEEP IT UP , WOMEN NEED ALL THE SUPPORT AND HELP WE CAN GET.
May 29, 2014 at 6:44 am
Feel free to share. Respect.
June 11, 2014 at 9:05 am
Thanks for this article. I must share.
December 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm
Hey ladies…we call it nagging…
February 14, 2015 at 6:14 am
This describes my relationship wth my ex to a tee. Together 15 years and for kids later I walked…he married 6 months later. We were on the last stage of the cycle. . was ready to marry years ago. He wasnt so now I’m a single parent and hes married. We share our kids but its a bitter pill to swallow as he now appears to be everything he wasn’t with me.
January 8, 2016 at 6:16 pm
Although I married the man. It seems u we still the practice wife. He has.left and is doing for the other one everything I thought he would do for me/us.